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Iguana Feeding

Iguanas in the wild are strict herbivores. They tend to eat many small meals throughout the day, and their natural eating habits lean toward a diet of fiber and plant protein, with very little fat. When choosing food for your iguana, it's important to select different kinds of plant-based food in the right proportions: 90 percent should be vegetables and 10 percent fruits. While iguanas do enjoy the sweeter fruit choices, fruit doesn't have the same mineral and vitamin content as vegetables. To avoid getting your pet hooked on just a few foods, be sure to feed a wide selection of appropriate foods in the right proportions. In these cases, fresh foods are best, with frozen coming in second and canned coming in last.

Vegetables: Here is a list of some appropriate vegetables to feed your iguana. It's best to serve them raw; just be sure to wash them well.

  • Dandelion greens (unsprayed, if from your yard)
  • Collard and mustard greens
  • Turnip tops and greens
  • Green beans and peas
  • Timothy hay
  • Swiss chard
  • Clover
  • Kale
  • Shredded squash
  • Shredded carrots

Flowers: The following flowers are also OK for your pet. Be sure they have not been treated with chemicals or fertilizers.

  • Dandelion flowers
  • Carnations
  • Hibiscus
  • Roses
  • (Avoid azaleas because they are toxic!)

Fruits: Appropriate fruit selections include:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Melons

Chop all of the ingredients into a size easily handled by the young iguana. Then mix them thoroughly and store the mixture in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. Once or twice a day, offer a small amount of this mixture after it has been liberally sprinkled with an appropriate vitamin-mineral supplement (Reptical and Vita-Life, Terra-Fauna Products, Mountain View, CA 94042; Reptovite, Verner's Pet Products, Long Beach, CA 90807). Nekton-Pet (from West Germany) and other Nekton products are available for sale in some veterinary hospitals. Particular attention to calcium supplementation is essential because young, growing iguanas are very prone to calcium deficiencies. Nekton-MSA, Reptical or Vita-Life should be used to supplement all juvenile iguanas. Growing iguanas may also be fed "expanded" guinea pig or rabbit pellets (pellets allowed to expand by absorbing water), either plain or as a top dressing over vegetables. This is a convenient way to add necessary vitamins and mineral (contained in the pelleted food) to the iguana's diet.

An alternative method of vitamin-mineral supplementation works well in all but the very small iguanas. Empty gelatin capsules can be filled with Nekton-Pet and/or Nekton-MSA powder. The filled capsule is then inserted directly into the iguana's mouth using a pilling device originally designed for use in cats This direct method of supplementation ensures that the iguana receives its required supplement and also eliminates the waste associated with sprinkling the supplement on food. Older iguanas can be fed daily or 2-3 times per week, and can be offered the same items as listed above. Plant material, such as dandelions (flowers and leaves), clover, rose petals, and flowers of hibiscus, carnation and nasturtium, should be offered as well. Many health food stores carry dried dandelion and other edible herbs that can be offered to captive iguanas all year round. Fresh fruit (bananas, berries, apples, peaches pears, and plums) can occasionally be included in the diet.